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We salute the Grammy nomination of the late great Dave Van Ronk's final concert album:
". . . and the tin pan bended and the story ended . . ."
DVR Grammy CD
Watch the 47th Grammy's and look for DVR's Wife and Producer, Andrea Vuocolo Vanronk, and our beloved Christine Lavin [who helped edit it]
February 13, 2005 8PM on CBS.

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William Valdez is our Son-in-Law Extrodinaire.
You can support our troops via this site, and support William, personally, if you wish. His TFT ID is 1862195
Thank you!

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US Faces of the Fallen:
ĽUS Fatalities in Iraq

ĽUS Fatalities; "Operation Enduring Freedom"

Civilian casualties update
  Monday   August 28   2006

Ahhhhhh, a sigh of releif because I had an appointment with Dr Waite today, he's back from vacation, and we talked about Gerry (he's her doctor too) and he's going to phone Dr Khalighi at WSH tomorrow and share info.

Dr waite assured me that he has no intention to take vacation from now to the end of the year, so he will be available...ahhhhhhhhh...safe in his knowledge of Mom and his willingness to reach out and speak to other MDs.

Thank you Dr Waite you don't know how much this means to me and Mom ..!

PS am in a flare of the tummy thing - methinks I'm on alert for an ER trip -- but I've taken what I can orally and from the alternate orafice....send healing, calming energy please........TTFN

 10:23 PM - link -    

Gud Fud = Good News!!!!

Today we visited Mom. It was weird, she was sleeping head hanging down, on a couch in front of the big screen TV, and we both didn't recognize her. I was absolutely unsure. I was pretty sure it was the one who was most likely Mom, but with her eyes close, and her head down, and her shoulders hunched, it was very freaky.

From the back she looked more like her, but still not her -- her hair isn't her hair so much. Not as vivid white. And not her style as much, methinks they cut it for her. They also cut her fingernails, she admired mine (they are acrylics -- I can't grow 'em at all - break, chip, crack) so I think she regrets not having them.

But, back to Mom not looking like Mom. Of course she didn't have any personal clothing, and she was wearing some "Mardi Gras" beads. That hurts, and sort of belittles Mom, but I think the intention was to let her feel festive and the colors were perky and matched her sweatshirt. I remarked on them, and she poo-poo'd them so she knows it ain't high fashion.

I sat catty-corner to her couch and said, Gerry? and she looked up...eyes opened wide when she saw me, and I went to kiss her. I told her about the goodies we brought from home.

Gordy got us a private room, and we went in and sat. I showed Mom the photos I brought with me, and the top one was Grandma and Grandpa and she said, "My Mom and Dad!" -- so the absolutely knew them. She looked up to top of the page, and she saw her favorite photo of Dad, and she loved it, and rubbed it, and the tears started, although she was pretty dry, methinks dehydrated a bit*.

We went through the snaps, and she absolutely knew Joan!!! and rubbed Terri's face and said, "Pretty", and when I said it was Terri, she said, "not a good one of her, she's much prettier"!!! We went through them a few times and then her puree'd meal came in.

She drank her entire Ensure!!!! And, thank you Gordy, he tried each puree to identify it, and make her feel safe that it was ok, and no Rx in it, and also, to ease Mom's need to be a hostess and share. The food was ok, but not all good for her, so I brought out the Squash Souffle', and after a meager taste, all of a sudden, recognition, and her eyes lit up and she ate and ate and ate it!!! And she took the other food on the tray and mixed it with it.

She ate a lot!!!! And she tried the "goop" and after reassuring her it was prunes, figs et al that Kim made for her, she tasted it and "mmmm", kewl beans, she liked it and did some mixing with it too.

But the real hit was the squash. Kim made it too -- and she's hurting physically, has severe pain, and her discs are all askew, and despite it all, she got up early this AM and made it for Mom. She's amazing and so is her honey -- but I thank the powers that be for having Kim in my and Mom's life.

What a joy to see Mom eat! Her appetite was stimulated a bit by the goodness of the food, and also, she's prolly been hungry right along, but had nothing that tasted good. I also brought applesauce (organic) and cottage cheese and rice pudding and 3-cheese sauce and her Mocha (which she remembered from last week, because last week she had no clue what it was) and she's eating!!!

Oh I hope this lets her put on weight! I hope her iron goes up.

Dammitall, we forgot the spinach souffle we bought, but next week we'll bring it, I think I'll cook it before we go so she can eat one, and also, more squash!!! [we always called it "squish" -- it has always been a comfort food for both Mom and myself - especially when my tummy gets hurting]

I took a snap. I will put a link to it here later after I set things up. I don't want to post it without the "warning" because although she looks much better than our previous visits, it may be a shock. So link only if you are ok to see the changes.[I decided that Mom would not want people to see her like this after all...I will keep her dignity in check, despite how much better she looked to me, she is still a proud woman, and she wouldn't want people to see her 8/28 ..jlg]

It was weird, she was talking about "Jimmy Gillman's house". I don't know where that came from, unless from the photos I brought, and their "titles" on them. I guess she just misses him a lot, and Mary does try to phone weekly. I has asked if Mary had called yet, and she said "yes, ... no, not yet".

I'm curious to find out when Mary called to see how accurate Mom's memory is. It won't make or break anything, I'm just curious. Mom did ask the time, so maybe she thought it was time to go to Jim's, or maybe Mary talked about a visit? Or it could be just nothing. It's hard to tell what means what, and what to dig for more information on, or what is just words put together randomly.

Oh, yeah, when eating, Mom was so funny and expressive regarding wether she liked something or not. She was "playing the clown", she wanted me to laugh.

Mom also was all itchy, so I asked if it was new, seems as if it is to the RNs, so I think percacet is the problem, and maybe vicodin is the way to go, especially now if we can get Mom on daily "goop" and also food in her belly to move her bowels.

So, the hope curve is up. I hope this is the start of t-minus 30 days and counting.

I told Mom that she has to do a few things to get home:
1. Eat
2. Take her meds, do what the Md says and the Rns
3. Don't hit or pinch

She grinned and told me about a fight she did have and how she was sorry. I couldn't get it all, but methinks it was with another patient? or a care-giver vs. a RN. But I told her not to do it so she can come home.

We both got teary-eyed about missing eachother when Gordy was out.

She also loved the shot of Gordy and Mikey we brought, and she absolutely knew Mikey!!!

At one time, she was talking to me about her other daughter Jonni -- I dunno what that was about because she knew I was her daughter Jonni. I imagine that it could be one of those things where she can't focus on the memory when she's seeing me in front of her, so she substitutes the other individual with what is readily available to her, i.e. me.

We also had a talk about her dentures, and I hope that we can have new ones made and see if Mom can try. I'm willing to pay for them if it will mean a chance at her being able to eat other foods, and to speak more clearly.

I love my Mom to bits and pieces.
Kim worked a miracle today with her gracious gift of self and food despite her hurting so badly.
Gordy did good as food-tester and making Mom feel safe, and also feel the hostess.

She still gets very tired easily, but hopefully next week after some gud fud, she'll have more energy?

I love her so much, every day she's so far away is excrutiating and sad beyond the scope of words.
Mom please feel my heart. I treasure our time together, and that she still thinks I'm beautiful, she actually says that, and she holds my hand to kiss it, and I kiss her and hug her and she hugs back, hard as she is able, we still connect, but she sees me, still, through rose colored "mommy" glasses? wow! I'll take it with a full heart.
*8/28: Today, I think that maybe the tears were about her seeing her Mom and Dad and other people like my Dad was a confusion at first; I think she felt they were visiting her until I broke the spell by talking about the other photos, and flipping the pages, 20-20 hindsight, I wish I didn't break the spell, next time I will be more careful....

 12:44 AM - link -    

  Saturday   August 26   2006

Thank you Aunt Joan!!! Despite no improvement re: today's phone call to WSH, and our upcoming visit tomorrow, I have pure releief, I can feel the tension leave me completely on this issue.

When I mentioned Mom's potential for transfusion, she so matter of factly said, "What's wrong with that? My Mother has had it frquently" ... "They're done all the time"!

About the scope Dr K is talking about, neither of us know what he means, prolly not colonoscopy or endoscopy which we have gone through personally, so not a huge deal, although it is totally emphasized when you add the Gerry's POV where everything is so scary and worthy of suspicion to her [I'm still miffed that HP hid meds in her food, she detected it and dumped it and wouldn't eat...I still think this helped prove her paranoia to her, but hopefully food from home may help encourage her to eat, and the goop to become "regular", especially since right now they are looking for a stool sample to see if she's bleeding internally. If she isn't, then she'll prolly have the transfusion once to just amp up her iron in her blood, if she is, then time to figure out what it is.

Thank you Aunt Joan!!! Holding on to this weight and fear and panic and then being able to let it go, well you have no idea how good this is for me right now. I actually think I'll go out on the deck for a few moments, then come back in and tackle this nightmare of a bedroom - argh!

 02:24 PM - link -    

  Thursday   August 24   2006

Happy Birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!... ...Dear Gordy,
...and many mooooore!!!!

Katie and Mikey and Colby and Robby and Hannah and Doug and Kim came over to celebrate Gordy's birthday and it was a joyful time. These are amazing and dear family and friends. I will put snaps up at a later date with the appropiate link. Until then, it was a grande time chez Zoe today.

Happy Healthy Birthday dear one!

[we missed you Jenny and Billiam and Robyn and Evan
*big ol' bear hug to you all*]


 10:38 PM - link -    

  Wednesday   August 23   2006

And, to top it off during my meltdown due to ignorance of what to do, and empathy for what Mom is going through, and alone as no one is available to help, well, I spoke to Mom, and told her about the food I plan to bring with me this weekend, and she was sooooo excited and happy, and she absolutely knew me, and, she misses me, and can't wait to see us, and we both started to get teary-eyed, but both did a "chins up" to help eachother out.

Then, while waiting to hear from Dr Knak, Gordy got bit and stung by a wasp, two places, the arm, and the face!!! Poor darling. He was weed-whacking, trying to get the yard looking nice for his birthday tomorrow. They really smart, and are swelling up some, and I'm on alert that he gets no hives, and his breathing stays ok.

What a lousy day before birthday for him. I hope no more catastrophes occur so he can enjoy his family on the morrow. He's been having to deal with my tears and tirades, and with his big heard, has to witness and take part in Mom's fading and even rotting away. He's a special Man. Mom and I
are extremely lucky in this regard!

Sigh...my LOML!

 07:09 PM - link -    

Today the shit hit a fan (not THE fan) and I don't know where to turn -- well, worse, I've exhausted my places to turn to and no good answers.

Started today on max, 3 hours sleep, and off to the dentist. "Look Ma, no cavities!" (but I did dump core on Catherine, the hygenist...I was wound tight about Mom). I'm feeling a money pinch, so I asked for a recommendation on the Island if I can't stay with Dr Giswold, and he had one name (which I don't know if he's in "the network" or not), a Dr Weismann in Oak Harbor. I hope I can keep Dr G, cuz I like him and his staff, and lovelovelove his wife and co-worker, Sara!

Then a stop at the eye doctor to see if the sample frames came in...I was told they came and left..ugh...but there were the ones from Oak Harbor still there, and I chose one -- majority ruled on this -- I wasn't too sure either way, but I trust Lynn fer sure. I found out that there is a Dr Larsen on Thursday and Friday, and I may be able to do a same day, fit me in, appointment -- so far I have shamefacedly had to cancel 2 due to physical health and exhaustion.

Then off to Payless to buy stuff for Gordy's birthday party tomorrow. No O'Douls for Kim and Doug and moi. Dang -- maybe it will come in tomorrow AM. Cutting it close. I did find a food that both cats LOVE -- it's Dr Weil's brand!!! Good stuff in it, and apparently catlicious too.

I made it home.

I phoned WSH to check on Mom. Melanie just got on and said call later, she wasn't sure. Then I guess she looked at Mom's chart and said Mom ate only a little, and the previous RNs told her that Mom acted up earlier today, so Atavan PRN. Also Mom had pain.

I asked to speak to Mom. I was told to phone a different extension. I rang, Melanie answered, and then Dr Khalighi got on. He told me Mom does not complain of pain to him when asked. She's been sweet etc. He did do the impaction removal the other day, and they sent her to the DDS there who indicated that Mom would not take well to the dentures due to her dementia (Alzheimer's). Everyone hates dentists, and Mom was so good with them, it seems to me that it's worth a shot so she can chew food. She's on Puree, but little appetite, and so Dr K upped the dose of Ensure. I told him that Mom only drank 1/2 can yesterday -- that's the way it was reported. He said he'd make sure Mom has someone with her when meals come to help encourage her to eat.

Then the bomb dropped, and my world fell out.

Mom has anemia, and the Iron Pills haven't helped [Dr K does listen, as we talked, he did change it to liquid Iron so she will take it -- if she refuses her pills, she prolly will take the supplement).

Dr K explained that her blood work has her at 29-30, and that is bad, especially for the elderly. He said he has left orders at E-8 that if it should drop below 29, she is to go via ambulance to Hospital
(they don't have the facilities here) for a transfusion! Shit! And, a scope to see if she's bleeding internally!!! SHITSHITSHIT!!! Since 2/9/06 when she moved to HomePlace, her world has been a total nightmare that has gotten increasingly more painful and we can't wake up!!!

This past 5 weeks at WSH alone (and the MSW and the Doctor is more caring than anywhere else to date, save Mom's regular MDs) she has been:
1. From UGH to WSH, in ambulance 3+ hours.

2. We met her just shortly after her arrival, then later, Dr Phan sends her, due to her extreme pain in her left calf, foot, to St Clare, Ambulance, us following behind, for tests. She was restrained. She had a catheter put in. She had IV, she had blood drawn, she had BP (which really really hurts her for some reason) and injections of Atavan (thankfully I was there to intercede and say, NO HALDOL, and he heard me).

3. We leave after she's sleeping, the tests are taking way too long, so she's transported via Ambulance back to E-1 at WSH, where she stayed asleep, but was awakened and, unbenknowst to me at the time, without her upper teeth!, in a strange room.

4. She's there a while, when she's then sent to a new Ward, new people all over. E-5.

5. Two days later, she is moved again, to E-8!!!

6. When next I see her, she has no Lower teeth either!

7. She's given a meal that she can not possibly ingest -- how long has this been going on? Certainly one would think someone would make the connection - no teeth = no chew? better puree? Gordy and I witness this poor, once proud woman, suck the lettuce leaves for the dressing!!! Two small mouthfuls of hand fed mashed potatoes. Damn. More calls, many people are on vacation.

8. While I was there, I was told Mom can go to the John herself, she's been doing it all day, says Virginia. Well, one time, I went with her -- she was SOILED dammit, and obviously unable to do this herself. Can't anyone think things through? And, they gave her underwear (not hers -- she doesn't wear them) and I'm on the (unclean) floor in the john, trying to help her, and no one listens to her crying out STOP, myself included, not obeying her, we just want to fix it as fast as we can, wipe her butt, add ointment for the rash, change into pull ups, toss the underwear, etc. Poor Mom. The lack of dignity is horrific, and I am adding to this moment. Mom's weak as a kitten, she can't stand. How horrible.

9.That night I phoned, Mom was back up from bed because her roomie was hollering. She was watching TV, and I was told talking to another patient. I am told she looks relaxed, so I don't disturb her with a phone call.

10. Mom has her X-Rays and they see a lot of stool. They manually take it out!!! Painful and degrading, she has so much arthritis that has attacked her whole body. And her skin is so fragile.

11. More blood work, and more medicine she doesn't want, and very little food or Ensure goes into her weakened body. She's starving herself to death, and /or they are helping with their being unaware, or their not being proactive when they see a problem, like no teeth = no food, and telling the MDs so they can do something.

12. Today, the word is she may go for transfusion and see if internal bleeding re: a scope.

WHAT DO I DO NOW? Do I allow this procedure? Is it typical? Will it hurt or help? Can
I be there to hold her hand? Who can I talk to for feedback on my Mom?

I phone whidbey community physician's and Waite is on vacation until Monday, so I get a call back from Andrea. She listens while I cry my heart and ignorance out to her. I end up asking her to ask Dr Knak if this sound like a reasonable thing to do for a dementia Senior. I just get the call that he doesn't feel comfortable, since he doesn't know Mom, going against another MD's orders. SHIT I'm in this alone. I know no one can make the decision for me, but someone has a better clue than I
whether this is prolonging her pain and fear by following "Procedure", or if this can help her have a better quality of life. The internet as no clue -- well actually, a lot of data, just no united reply.

I can't call back east now because it's too late, and, frankly, what could my Aunt Joan say to help me decide? She's as lost as I am, and she has no clue what Mom is like. Jim is in Simsbury, CT at a B&B, but how can he make choices when he has no idea what Mom is like now. He thinks she's the woman he saw in February. And he thought she was bad and frail then; it was a shock to him. He has no idea what frail is. Mom looked and acted and felt amazingly well back then. It was a medicine that didn't allow her to walk well. Taking it away, and she started zipping along again. He has a picture that isn't real. Mom also comprehends most everything she hears. She even remembers some things that I would be sure she'd forget re: stuff that happened earlier that week. She "gets it" that she's sick, that she's on her horrible version of that "date rape pill", only in a disease. She can't impact her universe around her. She can't speak her needs or views or pain. She is on the receiving end of whatever is given to her. How Horrible!!!

Even my dearest Kim can't know what to tell me because I have specifically kept her away from
WSH despite her offer to visit. She shouldn't see Mom like this. The intent has been she'll come back to a private facility, preferable Careage on the Island, and we can spoil her and play catch-up then.

It is unlikely that Mom'll make her 30 days of no "bad behaviour" since every day she wants to be "heard" and have people do what she asks, but she's incapable, so she will get attention by the only means left to her, a shout, or a pinch.

I need her home, and I need someone here to help her. I don't know where to turn to get that, or if it is doable. She can't end her days so far from me, south of Tacoma, and in such an impersonal place, and an ugly place. But, she's currently a ward of the state, and the state hospital is way over there.


 07:01 PM - link -    

I hated these at first -- Mom didn't look as pretty as Mom, and it was not a good one of me either[although that is an impossibility -- to get a good one of me -- subject matter and all] but now, Mom is healthy looking and we did this together to have a memory of us together at the Gallery (Robin's salon in Oak Harbor) and the photographer had her agenda, didn't let us choose what we wanted to do, etc etc -- all in all a not good day, but now, looking back, a precious day that I would take back in a heartbeat...

Time's Perspective changes everything

[this was filtered to protect the innocent...]

[Growing up, as a teenager, when I reached high school, I remember Mom always wanting us to have a specific type of Mother-Daughter relationship, where I was absolutely "girly-girl", and we did things like the Vinicks did; go to art shows together, or maybe do trips to the city for a lunch and shopping, and me to date many different men at once like she did growing up. But, I was never that "girly-girl", that extension of herself who was a beauty like her. I was a "one-man-woman" when I met Jim Finley at 13 going on 14. It became a very painful chapter in my life, my being unable to just "be" and explore Jim's and my relationship -- instead, there were rules created like having to date other's if I was to date Jim, etc etc. I was pretty much a rebel growing up, and I was involved in things that seemed foreign to Mom, dissention groups against the war, and ecological groups such as fighting "I 291" from bisecting the resevoir. I remember stopping traffic on "I-90" in Hartford, when I was 14. The group split in the walk, so at one point, I was leading it. I let her down in being as much of myself as I was. Get this dichotomy; I usually got permission to skip school for these protests, or do skip school to go to the beach with Bob Johnson in his Austin Healy 3000, and when forbidden to see Jim, wen Dad went to NYC on a buying trip, Mom let me sneak and see Jim. No surprise in this 20/20 hindsight that my Sr Yearbook I chose the ee cummings quote, "To be nobody-but-yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else".... Yet another digression, and another stray memory that sneaks up on me onto this blog.]

 01:36 AM - link -    

  Tuesday   August 22   2006

Had to laugh! We lent Jenny and William our scrabble board, and found that they followed suit and put their first 2 game scores in the box, dated, as Gordy and I did.

Just Plain Good Old Fashioned Scrabble

Thank you for that fun frivolous act Jenny and Billiam!!!! What good kids they all are (you must hand it to him, Gordy makes pretty amazing children (who then make amazing children...))!

 02:12 AM - link -    

Ah, releif of sorts. Earlier today I spoke to Dr Khalighi and I like him a lot, and he seemed to actually "hear" more more than most. Brian is out for the week, so having my voice "heard" by someone else is a good thing.

I won't go into detail, but he asked a very very astute question after our quite long conversation. "Why is your Mother Here?". That's the $64,000 question. I told him the story in brief. He was sympathetic, and that is goodness. He also knows that I am eager to have Mom come home to the Island, Careage specifically, or, if she is dying, to have her come home, here, with a hospice worker here to help the transition be as easy and homey as possible for her.

I also had a Marilyn session, and she always helps me on some level. She told me that "stress" would be if Mom was in a Nursing Home, but this, this is beyond stress. So, I guess I'm hanging in there ok based on the degree of angst I'm going through, because despite everything that has gone wrong, I still manage to put one foot in front of the other, and actually accomplish tasks for Mom, and ask questions, and stay audible via phone, if not present in person. And it takes a lot of repetition, but things do get done if I keep at it, like, yet again, I spoke to the charge nurse scant moments ago, and she is going to write down that Mom needs "mushy food" so she can get much needed nourishmnent.

I also found out, that the reason Miralax is never tried, despite my many letter, talks, to staff, Nurses, Social Workers, Doctors, etc. is because the State only allows a certain range of medicine. Miralax is not on the list. I will contact Dr Waite and request a Rx, and bring it to them to use if they can.

Also, the boon today, is that I can bring Mom home cooked meals to keep in the "patient fridge". I'm asking Kim to do "goop", which is a "paste" made up of prunes and senna tea, and other goodies that will keep Mom going, and she likes the taste. It could be good on oatmeal or just plain. Right now with no teeth, there isn't much it can go on.

I also want to make her, the infamous comfort food, squash souffle. Maybe tomorrow Kim and I can get it done, although Gordy's b'day is coming up fast (Thursday) and gots to celebrate the good things despite the sadness. Cake, Ice Cream, Friends, Family, X-Treme Croquet?

But, we can bring foods she actually enjoys, or enjoyed like rice pudding, and oatmeal and fruitsicles and soups and 3-cheese marinara sauce, and cottage cheese, and applesauce and...well it is something
I can DO for my Mom. Yes!!!!

They did end up dealing with an impaction, which I was afraid would happen, but let's hope with "goop" and other things, Mom will eat, eat well, and keep going regularly and avoid her kidneys shutting down.

The Doctor did ask me today about DNR etc. But, I assured him that IV for fluids if she gets dehydrated is goodness, and besides, it would make giving her some meds pretty easy, and she'll not be upset by it. So if it comes to that, there might be some good with an IV shunt in place.

Apparently she just went back to sleep. Her roommate was acting out and very loud per the Charge RN, so Mom was walking around, but did get back to bed, hopefully for some real rest.

I love her so much, I hope she can get some comfort from the "good fud" we will bring with us next trip. My toes and fingers are crossed. This can be a step in the right direction in getting her on her 30 day goal, and back home to the Island (knock wood).

 01:59 AM - link -    

  Monday   August 21   2006

I'm so afraid. I'm afraid for me, I'm afraid for Mom. There is just no way I can survive this. I keep trying to do the right thing, but she's dying. She's hurting, she's so far away and alone. We so miss eachother.

I can't make it better. I have no one to ask what would Mom want, or what would be right for Mom. I see her hurting every time I visit. I see her pain, I cause her pain. I can't make it right for her. I try so damn hard to do the right thing. I try so hard and I fail completely.

I can't beat the disease, I don't even know if I truly believe she has alzheimer's. My gut has told me since earlly on that this began with her fall when she lived in Redmond, alone. She woke up one night, and she went to the john. She was taking her blood pressure medicine in the evening which would be the wrong time to take them because her BP would be low already as she'd be at rest, and waking up at night from bed would make her dizzy.

So, she went to the john, got up and immediately fell on her big clamshell, and passed out for a bit. She remembered vividly her falling down face forward, and seeing the clamshell scallop (we're talking about 3' long, and about 1' high at the scalloped piece) coming towards her head. She tried to brace herself, and she ended up breaking her pinky (which the Evergreen ER never tended to, it's still bent) and scored her temple. As a testimony to Mom's strength and strong will, she managed to crawl (army on the belly style) back to her bedroom, got the phone to her, and had the presence of mind to phone her friend, Pat.

Pat came over and called 911. She then phoned me to tell me Mom was on her way to hospital.

I spent about a month at Mom's place taking care of her, and it proved to me that I could not take care of Mom when she lived off-island. So she came here to Whidbey Island, to Maple Ridge which was about 8 minutes away from me, with the intention that this adult community was going to have a full medical facility. That didn't happen and I still feel angry and ripped off. We could have found her a nicer area and place more suited to her needs if that was not part of the proposed deal. 20-20 hindsight is just so crystal clear. She and Dad had always planned for me to have their house as my security, so I would never be a bag-lady like I fear -- being unable to work, when my savings is used up completely, and it has gone fast and furious the past few years, with people living in my house -- it's amazing how bills increase, wear and tear is huge, and taking over Mom's bills, or my treating her or buying her clothing et al, since I feel my money is hers to use, I have made little distinction, well, my giving parents expected me to have their house to keep me sheltered. Well, that blew up in the light of reality.

But I so digressed, as is my babbling, free-association talking style. When I last left in the saga, is that Mom had moved here to Whidbey, and we were disappointed with Maple Ridge community not coming through with the plan.

Mom started to "rig" her house with "secure" items such as keeping the blinds closed so no one could see in (and effectively keeping her in a "cave" or darkness) an stashing gobs of sneakers at the front door to act as a (very clever of her -- she pleaded ignorance that it made it difficult for her to open the door; rubber on vinyl) and I saw, when I came over at night, when unexpected by her, that she wrapped the cord of the stand up fan, around the inside of her bedroom door so keep people out, and make a helluva noise if they tried to get in -- she's not get caught unaware. She phoned more frequently with fear, and occasionally, I'd sleep over to keep her company in hopes that she'd relax a bit and sleep well. But she was scared, and uncomfortable in her house alone, and she feared the trees would fall on her house. Her protector, Daddy, was not there, and it wore on her nerves and it built up as her strength to be strong lessened with exhaustion

So, the next event of concern, was Mom started to get lost driving, and leaving ovens on, and was so depressed, afraid and anxious, and crying a lot. She was so overly emotional. Dr Waite decided he was unable to keep on top of the medicine for her anxiety and depression, each medicine ha a good and bad symptom, and each new dose change, or medicine change would compound symptoms with the way they interract, so he suggeted Mom go to a specialist at an Eldercare GeroPsych ward, and get all her medicine managed in one "swell foop". After about 3-4 days, Mom said, no more - get me home!

I took her home. Partially because of a promise I made her that she could come home when she wanted after 5 days, and partially because one time I was there in the evening (the place was in Northgate) she was soooooo heavily sedated it disturbed me. If she stayed another 5 days, she probably would have been stabilized re: her medicine, but she came home for the above mentioned reasons.

Now she was in this state of medicinal flux, and she couldn't be alone in my opinion, and this time I was right. She moved in with me and Gordy that November. It was to be a temporary thing, but Mom got less able to drive solo without doing foolish things, and she became more dependent on Gordy and I, and Kim. She had some girlfriends who would meet and play cards or grab food, but that didn't keep her occupied and feeling "safe". She moved into the "cat-free-zone" bedroom with attached bathroom, and in a few months, it became evident that she was chez moi to stay.

We could make sure she took her medicine in the right dosage and at the right time, and we could make sure she ate well (Gordy spent many a night thinking hard for something nutritious for her, yet tasty enought to have her want to eat). [BTW, as an aside, her allergies to the cats subsided with her exposure to them, she even would stick her face in their lovely lush fur with no ensuing hives or red eyes]

Between Gordy and I, we did pretty well in making her feel as safe as she could feel, and got to her appointments, and remind her of birthdays, and include her in all of those wonderfully magic Coale get-togethers -- Mom thrived on the large family that she always wanted. Kim kept visiting Mom weekly, going out to grab some coffee and chat on their Tuesdays. Kim also would stay all day with my Mother when it was too hard for her to come with me off-island for a MD appointment and procedure. The last time she was with me for a procedure, was greatly appreciated; it was for the breast biopsy that took 2.5 hours, and she was so good, and boy did I need my Mom. But mostly she didn't comprehend much of it, or remember my medical issues. She never really did accept and assimilate when I went out on disability. To this date, she never wrote the letter I requested of her regarding the changes she saw since my disability, but, in the height of his cancer treatments, my amazing Dad came through. No wonder she felt safe with him.

The Coales all welcomed her with loving arms. She squished a plethora of Coale babies, and she joined in with a joy that the Coales share to those willing to be embraced by them. And she was delighted to just hang out with the crowd. She felt safe and at home. She was herself, and she and Doris were the Matriarchs. Strange, back then, Mom was the healthier of the two, now Doris has blossomed with her having been in the "adult living home" that is right for her. She is so much more alive and present and laughs so much easier. Her pain is less of a problem unless she pushes herself too hard, but she is funny, and eloquent, and her memory is only minimally "wonky". The contrast between then and now is mind-boggling. Mom is thing and shakey and toothless and unable to eat, or control her bladder, and the pain, oh the pain she is in. Mom, I'm so sorry.

But Mom got more and more afraid, and we could not be her 24x7 safety blanket mucd longer, nor would she take help from the care-givers we hired. I caved, and we found what we thought would be a place that is right for Mom to be.

We were wrong on so many levels, despite Doctor recommendations, and our opinion, and even my Brother had a good feel of it when he visited in February...and now, we are at this point, just about 7 months later, where Mom is a "ward of the state", and has spent two horrific trips at UGH where they so didn't medicate her properly, and HomePlace "streeted her", and I cry as I watch her in pain and so alone.

I will never forget what brought her (t)here, and I will never be able to find forgiveness.

I hope that she truly knows I meant well, and that I love her so incredibly much that if love were a drug, she would be healed; living and delighting in a state of health that would make her so happy, and playing with the children, and able to fly free and go wherever she wanted to go, and be with people she wants to be with at her whim, a visit to Jim and his family, or Joan's in CT and playing catch up with her long time friends, and stopping by Terri's and Jenna's and doing the Love-Fest that was Dad's last trip before he died. They had such a good time. I doubt that Mom can conjure up that memory, or that feeling any more.

Mom, I love you to health and joy and laughter and twinkling blue eyes, and an appetite to sate with your meals of choice, and your family and friends surrounding and supporting you, and your walking tall and your white hair shining again, and your hugging and squishing babies and those you love. I even wish I had a child for you so you could have had the bigger family you craved. My choices have unintentially hurt you my beautiful proud amazingly funny and smart Mother.

I hope that "universe" or "spirit" or "god /dess" or whatever is able to make things happen is kind to you and gives you what you need to rest safe, whatever it is to make you safe and not in pain, I wish for you -- whatever and however it may hurt me. I give you permission, and I give you my love to ease your life journeys. God I love and miss you.

xo+ always and all ways my beautiful Bahmu!

 01:07 AM - link -    

  Sunday   August 20   2006

Another shocking visit with Mom today. I still am hopeful that WSH can do something for Mom *IF* they move quickly.

Today, as we entered, she was walking hunched, pulling at her slacks (she HATES fly front and they share clothing there, nothing is personal) and when we saw her and called out to her, she looked up and recognized us, and maybe a small grin.

One scary thing was that she in no way stands out anymore, even looking for her white mane of hair.

They had cut her fingernails, that's ok, but they didn't take the garish red polish that UGH prolly put on when she was at Sedro-Woolley, so it looked really pathetic and like the novelty hands that are available at halloween with bloody stubs for fingers and at the wrist.

We were led out to the "porch" -- a concrete slab on the 2nd floor, but with a nice view and, I imagine when the weather isn't sweltering, a cooling gentle breeze. There is an attempt at making it pretty with some hanging baskets of flowers, but there is still a long way to go. We had it to ourselves for a fairly long while. They brought her dinner out there.

Just a bit earlier, I showed Mom her goodies of her Starbucks Mocha Lite (she calls it her "chocolate milk") and a blueberry muffin.

The food was prepped for a person with teeth, and this time she had none. Somehow she's lost her lower teeth. Gordy went out to try to get the uppers, he was successful, but, despite Mom trying so hard, she could not open her mouth enough to get them in. So sad. And she really tried for us too.

It broke my heart to see her suck on the leaves of the spinach salad for the dressing. She actually tried to swallow a leaf, and it came back up. She then ate a bit of mashed potatoes, Gordy encouraged her by feeding her, but about 1 and 1/2 of a small spoonful went down.

She seemed to grab a bit of the turkey in gravy, and also the veggies, but, it later, about 30-45 minutes later, came back up and out of her mouth whole. She's getting no nourishment. And she's dropping weight at an incredible rate.

At one point I had to take Mom to the john, and she had soiled herself, and they had given her the wrong type of "adult diaper", and it was already rewrapped so that the sticky parts were touching her inappropriately, and soiled too. I grabbed it off, and Gordy got someone in to help clean her and bring a depends.

It exhausted her. Her legs are in so much pain, and people trying to change her, well, they touch her calf and feet, and that gets her screaming in pain, and trying to get any and all of us to stop, but we have a job to do, so we keep hurting her in the process, and she pinched one of the caregivers trying to get attention and get her /us to stop hurting her. I don't call that hitting out or striking out. I call it communicating. She can't speak sentences that are not words strung together (that appear random to us) that don't make sense.

At one point, when Gordy and I were alone, I told him to put on the game face. He couldn't keep it up until he made a huge effort. He looked so sad for Mom. Mom knew him and me frequently. She told me how much she loved me, and how good I looked, and other nice things, all the while I am the one who got her here in this state of non-health by choices in where she should stay.

I don't listen to my gut enough. Everytime I don't, I regret it. She should have been out of HomePlace after the first trip to UGH. Damn. Then there are subsequent regrets.

Today it took about 3.5 - 4 hours to get there due to 3 boat wait and traffic!!! Seeing her only once a week is not good enough. She changes frequently, and I am not there to see it and give ideas and such based on a current state of health.

Quite a few times she called Gordy, Jim, and when she didn't look up at my face, she talked about her daughter or Jonni to "Jim". Whatever makes her feel safe works for Gordy and myself. But Gordy has been amazing, always, with Mom. Certainly this is not pleasant for anyone, let alone Gordy who inherited this family. We both are drained and miserable after a visit, and frustrated and the lack of them "hearing" and acting on things and getting it done for Mom.

Western State Hospital -- not the building Mom is in

I tried to phone the Social Worker and leave a message when I got home, but he is on vacation this week - egads!!!

Mom did, at first, have some twinkle in her eye, some flirtiness (is this what those UGH bozo's think is sexual?), and teasing words or looks, and roses in her cheeks...but maybe it was the heat giving her a "blush". But, when we left her, she was asleep in the chair, then we moved her into bed, and she was screaming in pain, but finally in bed, clothes on, shoes off.

The clock was ticking away -- at 7:00 she will get the much needed viodin.

I left crying, believing that Mom is dying and will never reach the 30 day mark that will let her come back to a private place...and if, when I talk to Dr K tomorrow, he says that her time is short, I will do what I can go get her home again, and get hospice -- but will the actual ride be too much for her?

So many unknowns. And Mom is so very sick.

I love her I love her I love her -- she's amazing and proud and strong and should not be going through this pain emotionally and physically and in such a scary place. One of the patients came up to me and he intimidated me and I just hoped I said the right thing in reply...and I'm "well", what about my poor Mother all alone?

Man, I don't think she weighs far from 100 lbs.

Please give me the wisdom and intuition to make Mom's life as easy as it can be. Please let Mom feel safe and rested and without pain. She's earned it many times over.

I love and miss her. We did have a small "miss you" cry together, but we only allowed ourselves a small bit of tears...two Gillman Girls trying to be strong for eachother. That's true love. Oh this hurts so much.

 10:30 PM - link -    

  Saturday   August 19   2006

Wow! I just was blown away by this endeavor!

I was checking out Gordy's blog, and I had to link immediately to see this up close! Wow!

Intrigued? Then make sure you see the DVD Sunday in the Park with George ?

I think you'll be tickled how musical theater interpreted this painting.

Great Job to oldonliner! Bravo - more! Encore!

 08:37 PM - link -    

"walk this way..." Igor [prnounced Eye-gore] from "Young Frankenstien" [pronounced Steen] -- there's more!